A suicide bombing in a Nigerian church has claimed the lives of at least seven, and left 100 others injured in Kaduna. The northern city has previously been the target of terrorist attacks by Islamist militant group Boko Haram. Citizens have been asked not to retaliate by area officials, and President Goodluck Jonathan has promised to reinforce the governments defenses against terrorist attacks, calling the bombing an “unfortunate and unacceptable trend that threatens the peace and stability of our nation.”
A vehicle carrying explosives drove into St. Rita’s church during Mass at 9.a.m before detonating its load. According to the BBC, the vehicle was held at a security gate outside the church, but the driver forced the truck through the wall of the church and set off the bomb.
“The persistence of messengers of evil will not prevail over the will of the government and the people to secure peace and safety,” Reuben Abati, a spokesman for Jonathan, said after the attack.
In June, the Boko Haram claimed responsibility for a series of church bombings in Kaduna state. Between the bombings and retaliations, at least 50 people died. A US Congressional report from November 2011 listed Boko Haram as an “emerging threat” and said the group may be allied with al-Qaeda, something the group denies.
Kaduna lies between Nigeria’s pre-dominantly Muslim northern region, and the largely Christian south. Boko Haram has been working to overthrow the Nigerian government and impose fundamentalist Islamic law, prompting violence in the north. The northern states also face higher rates of poverty compared to the oil-rich south-east.